Is an arrest warrant for one person good to enter and search another person’s home?

This discretionary appeal resulted in a plurality opinion, splintering the Supreme Court’s seven justices into roughly two equal camps.  The issue on appeal, simply stated, was this: is an arrest warrant for a suspect sufficient enough to gain entry to another person’s home to arrest the suspect?  In other words: is the third party’s Fourth Amendment guarantee to be free … Read More

The Superior Court has been busy.

Comm. v. Bowers, 2018 PA Super 88 (Apr. 16, 2018) Appeal out of the 39th Judicial District, Franklin County Branch.  The Superior Court held that an appeal from an order granting the Commonwealth’s forfeiture petition is interlocutory and not appealable. Petitions for return of property and petitions for forfeiture concern the same substantive issue, i.e., who is entitled to possession … Read More

The Self-Represented Defendant’s Limits in Confronting Witnesses

This was an appeal out of Lackawanna County.  Patrick Tighe represented himself at trial against the the most serious of sex-offense charges.  Clearly, little more needs to be said of how the result came out.  (This brings to mind the adage: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”) On appeal, Tighe apparently acquiesced to representation, and his … Read More

Trial courts must follow the rules, too.

This was an appeal out of Jefferson County.  The gist of the underlying facts and history leading up to this appeal is this: this was a local code enforcement case that got out of control and resulted in contempt proceedings for both Clifford Null and his attorney, Kurt D. Mitchell. Originally, Null had been cited by way of two private … Read More

Sufficiency of Evidence and Probable Cause

Comm. v. Gorman, 2018 PA Super 73 (Mar. 28, 2018) This was an appeal out of Allegheny County.  Gorman proceeded to a bench trial on three charges: theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and misapplication of entrusted property.  The long-and-short of the evidence behind these charges was that Gorman, a long-time VFW member who operated the honor guard out … Read More

Missteps, Translators, and Exigencies

Comm. v. Giles, 2018 PA Super 63 (Mar. 20, 2018) This was an appeal out of Allegheny County.  Giles had been convicted by a jury of several sex offenses, prime among them being rape of a child.  The child testified at trial about her sexual interactions with Giles, and she was cross-examined on several points.   To rehabilitate the child’s … Read More

A complex issue: Credit for time served.

In the past four days, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has issued two opinions that deal with the issue of how to award credit for time spent incarcerated before sentencing or resentencing. The one appeal is out of Erie County, and it concerns the issue of how time spent in custody should be allocated to either a parole detainer or new … Read More